'Silent Sam' is gone but conversation continues at UNC-Chapel Hill

Josh Chapin Image
Wednesday, August 22, 2018

CHAPEL HILL, NC (WTVD) -- The "Silent Sam" statue is gone from the grounds of UNC-Chapel Hill but it's still a big presence in conversations on campus and beyond.

Meantime the university has called in the SBI to assist campus police with the investigation.

"I'm glad it's down," said Shirwan Little, who graduated from UNC in 2015. "I hope all the ruckus over this will be over."

UNC's Upper Quad, where the statue stood, saw a wide variety of visitors Tuesday.

"It's interesting that it had to take people tearing it down to make something happen," said Becca Wooldridge, who teaches middle-school history in Durham. "People have been talking about it for a long time, whether it should be done or not be done. I think they should put another structure up that reflects the values of Chapel Hill and UNC, something they should be proud of."

Mark Hunt graduated from UNC in 1966.

"There were people that fought for the North and the South that were honored by this statue so to me it's not anything about slavery, it's not anything about racism -- it's about history," he said.

UNC's Chancellor Carol Folt responded to questions as to how the monument came down in the first place.

In a statement, she in part, wrote: "Safety is always paramount but at no time did the administration direct officers to allow protesters to topple the monument."

She continued: "Last night's rally was unlike any previous event on our campus. This protest was carried out in a highly organized manner and included a number of people unaffiliated with the university."

The Orange County DA along with UNC Police continue to investigate. Police said they'll be looking at surveillance and body camera video before considering additional charges or suspects.

Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger wrote a letter to the NC Historical Commission in August 2017 asking that the statue be moved to a "safer place" where it could be displayed in a historical context.

In a statement Tuesday, she said, "Looking ahead, we will work together to move our community forward. I encourage everyone to remember that our freedom of expression does not come at the expense of safety and public order."

Hemminger said Chapel Hill Police and city management will "work to support the University in its investigation."